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Afghanistan’s 2019 Election (7): Dithering over peace amid a lacklustre campaign

On the first day of the election campaign, only two (Ghani and Atmar) out of 18 candidates put up their pictures and posters along Darul Aman Road, a major road in Kabul. Atmar

On the first day of the election marketing campaign, only two (Ghani and Atmar) out of 18 candidates put up their footage and posters along Darul Aman Street, a serious street in Kabul. Atmar’s election ticket has disintegrated since then. Photograph: Ali Yawar Adili, 28 July 2019

One ticket has fallen aside and one candidate has withdrawn his candidacy in favour of another. This has lowered the variety of presidential candidates from 18 to 16 and left the two incumbents, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Government Dr Abdullah, as the primary contenders in the race. In this piece, AAN’s Ali Yawar Adili and Thomas Ruttig talk about the campaigns that started, the threats to boycott the election, the safety considerations and the presidential tickets which have fallen aside. They conclude that the campaign that started on 28 July and will continue until 48 hours earlier than election day has, to date, been uninspiring and marred by disbelief that the election will happen on 28 September.

Lacklustre start and uninspiring continuation of election marketing campaign

When the official race for the Afghan presidency started on 28 July, two months before the polls, solely three out of 18 candidates officially organised public marketing campaign events. These included the two incumbents and essential contenders, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Government Abdullah Abdullah, and in addition Enayatullah Hafiz, a fringe candidate. Ghani’s electoral ticket, Daulat-Saz (State-Builder), was the primary one. It launched its election marketing campaign at the Loya Jirga tent in northwest Kabul. The president stated that he had managed to undercut the “domination of gold, pressure and oppression” in Afghanistan’s political system during his first time period and asked individuals to grant him one other mandate to implement “regulation and justice.” Ghani stated that he would put into follow “Omarijustice,” a reference to the second caliph of Islam and a shot at claiming spiritual legitimacy for his presidency. Ghani adopted this by travelling to some provinces, for example to Paktia on 8 August (media report right here), to Herat on 23 August (media report right here) and to Kandahar on 14 September (see the video right here). Even earlier than the official marketing campaign began, he had toured the nation to inaugurate infrastructure tasks, which his opponents condemned as unfair and unlawful electioneering. Abdullah and his Stability and Integration staff was second, launching the campaign in the giant Uranus Wedding ceremony Palace on the primary street to Kabul’s worldwide airport. This gave him the prospect to confer with and criticise Ghani’s speech. He stated, “At the moment, someone has stated that he would implement Omari justice. Pay attention very rigorously. . . . If our individuals assume that Omari justice was like what occurred in the last 5 years [of the Ghani presidency]their faith can be harmed.” Abdullah –a companion in the post-2014 National Unity Government (NUG) with Ghani – accused the president of double requirements in preventing corruption. He referred to the corruption fees towards former minister of communication and knowledge know-how Abdul Razeq Wahidi who had been acquitted two days earlier(he was acquitted by the attraction courtroom seven days earlier, on 21 July, though, media report right here) while someone being investigated by the lawyer common had, again two days earlier, been appointed as appearing deputy minister of finance for income and customs, one of the key revenue-raising positions in government. He was referring to Walid Tamim who announced his ministerial appointment in a tweet on 26 July. All this while ready to receive India’s agreement to go there as Afghan ambassador (see AAN’s reporting right here). Abdullah referred to as it “appointing the wolf as shepherd.” The third candidate, Hafiz, selected a special technique to open his run for the presidency. With a gaggle of aides and supporters, he went to 3 areas in western Kabul predominantly inhabited by his Hazara ethnic group and cleaned roads there (see media report right here). No different campaigns started on 28 July. As an alternative, as discussed under, the 13-member Council of Presidential Candidates decided to delay their campaigns and even warned they might boycott the election. Though some candidates finally started their campaigns, the campaigns have remained insipid and affected by insecurity and the uncertainties around the now stalled peace negotiations.

Boycott threats

On the identical day the campaigns started, 28 July, the Council of Presidential Candidates issued a press release warning they could boycott the election, as they think about the poll “fraudulent, pre-engineered and crisis-generating.” The council includes 13 candidates and was shaped in April 2019 (then by 11 of the 18 presidential aspirants) in response to the delay within the presidential elections and what they noticed as the unconstitutional extension of Ghani’s presidential time period (see AAN’s reporting here and right here). Its members gave the president and his workforce one week to deal with various issues, such as the protection of “the independence of the unbiased electoral establishments,” together with these “associated to procurement and recruitment”; the interference of “high-ranking government officials . . . in favour of the ruling teams”; threats towards government staff who don’t help the teams of the NUG leaders and “deliberate insecuritisation of areas the place rival candidates to the ruling group are assumed to [receive] more votes.” If that did not occur, the council’s members would as an alternative “give attention to the wrestle to make the peace course of profitable and construct national consensus for creating an accountable administration so that such an neutral and national administration undertake the duty for holding a free and truthful and credible election.” (1) On 1 August, the Council of Presidential Candidates met the Election Help Group, which includes key donors (the European Union; Australia; Sweden, on behalf of the Nordic Plus group; Germany; Japan; the UK and the USA), NATO and UNAMA, to speak their above-mentioned assertion issued on the first day of the election marketing campaign. (2) Ahmad Wali Massud, one of the candidates and a member of the council who shared the information of the meeting on his Facebook page, wrote that the council was determined to make use of all out there assets for making the election transparent earlier than launching their marketing campaign, which fell in need of a boycott declaration.

Dealing with a potential boycott by no less than half the candidates, Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, an IEC spokesman, advised Hasht-e Sobh on 5 August that the IEC was prepared to hold the election even when it have been between two candidates only. It did not come to a boycott. One after the other, candidates began to launch their campaigns. Under is a timeline of the first campaign occasions of a few of them:

  • Chief of Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is experiencing his first presidential election in post-Taleban Afghanistan after his cope with the federal government in 2016, launched his marketing campaign on 1 August.
  • Former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil launched his marketing campaign at the Loya Jirga Tent on 3 August, 7 days after the official graduation of the race.
  • Sayyed Nurullah Jalili launched his marketing campaign at the Loya Jirga Tent on 4 August
  • Massud –not seen as one of the election favourites – (video here) launched his marketing campaign, also at the Loya Jirga Tent, on 9 August, 13 days after the race had formally started. At that time, Massud’s ticket might have been ranked third amongst when it comes to together with highly effective leaders of Jamiat-e Islami get together, after Abdullah’s Stability and Integration group and that of former NSC Hanif Atmar (which included former interior minister Yunos Qanuni, one other leading Jamiati, as a vice-presidential candidate). Nevertheless, after the Atmar ticket collapsed (more on that under) and Amrullah Saleh (who originally belonged to the same political camp) joined Ghani, various Jamiat heavyweights (similar to Qanuni, former Balkh governor Atta Muhammad Nur, Herat strongman and former minister of water and power Ismail Khan, and former defence minister Besmellah Muhammadi – who had been with Atmar) have been weighing whether to again Massud or Abdullah. The latter continues to be seen by many within the celebration as having squandered the political possibilities linked to his highly effective place in the NUG and has drawn harsh criticism for it, for instance by Ismail Khan, who had urged him not to run again. Nevertheless, he may look like the more doubtless selection, given Massud’s low-key performance.
  • Shahab Hakimi also launched his campaign on 9 August. As an alternative of talking concerning the election, he stated that “There isn’t any peace nor the likelihood for holding a basic election. Inshallah, interim government is coming. This administration [NUG] can’t maintain common, truthful and acceptable elections.”
  • Latif Pedram launched his first campaign event on the Intercontinental Lodge on 15 August through which he promised to create a “Federal Islamic Republic of Afghanistan-Khorasan” if he gained the election.

The election workforce security issue

Hours after the inaugural ceremony of Ghani’s election campaign ended, the office of his first running-mate, Amrullah Saleh’s Green Development movement (AAN background right here) in Shahid Sq. north of Kabul’s metropolis centre and close to the airport, came beneath a posh attack. The attack included a automotive bombing adopted by a gunfight involving a minimum of 4 attackers. The assault left 20 lifeless, including 16 civilians, and as many as 50 wounded (media report here). No group, together with the Taleban and the local Islamic State franchise, claimed this assault. It was extensively condemned by officials and presidential candidates such as the president, the chief government, Atmar and Nabil (see media report here) and UNAMA. The latter’s assertion underlined, “Candidates are civilians. Violence has no place in Afghanistan’s presidential marketing campaign.” Nevertheless, it had a demoralising effect for the election campaign which had simply kicked off. An attack by unknown gunmen on a Ghani marketing campaign workplace in Mazar-e Sharif was additionally reported on 1 September 2019. It resulted in a 15-minute firefight, however no one was injured.

Ten days into the campaign interval, on 6 August, the Taleban, writing in English, warned voters to “keep away from gatherings and rallies that would grow to be potential targets,” saying that it instructed “all its Mujahideen to stand towards this theatrical and sham of a process” and “forestall the enemy from succeeding of their malicious plans.” Additionally they challenged the election’s legitimacy by saying voting would happen only in chosen cities and even there a lot of the inhabitants wouldn’t be collaborating. They added that whereas negotiations have been underway “to deliver an end to the occupation and arrangements for intra-Afghan understanding are being put into place,” the elections would only serve to satisfy “the ego of a limited variety of sham politicians, ensuing within the waste of time, cash and assets.” In response, on the identical day the palace condemned “the Taleban’s menace towards the individuals.”It argued it was the individuals’s authorized proper, together with beneath Sharia, to elect their leaders (using the spiritual time period “auli-l-amr) “by way of direct vote.” It stated that the federal government had made “all the required preparations” to ensure this by way of “free, transparent and basic elections.” It additionally stated that the country’s safety forces have been “instructed” and “absolutely ready” and wouldn’t permit anyone “to cease their participation in figuring out their future.” In the meantime, the commander of the US and Resolute Help forces in Afghanistan, Basic Austin Miller, also assured his Afghan counterparts of their “full help and readiness to work with Afghan safety forces in all areas, particularly in suppressing insurgents.”

On the first day of campaigning, Nabil’s staff had already claimed that a lot of the “enemy’s threats” have been towards it and complained that its “safety package deal” had not “yet been carried out” by the government. Nabil stated it didn’t “pay a lot consideration, and this deliberate negligence has brought on significant issue for our public gatherings and provincial travels of the leadership members of our staff.” He did not specify who have been posing threats or their nature. (three) Later, on 10 September, a source from his election campaign who didn’t need to be named informed AAN that menace stories came from the federal government,  and have been principally towards Nabil himself and his first running-mate Murad Ali Murad.

The Council of Presidential Candidates additionally complained about insufficiency in the safety measures on 24 August, saying “Safety measures for the candidates are incomplete and worrisome, and the federal government has not offered providers in accordance with skilled standards. In the event of any unpleasant incident, officers on the prime and Ghani ought to be held accountable.”

Meanwhile, after his 23 August marketing campaign journey to Herat talked about above, President Ghani all of a sudden stopped campaigning within the provinces. As an alternative, he started “virtual rallies” where he speaks to supporters in several provinces on the telephone or by means of video convention. No cause was given for this measure. The New York Occasions Kabul-based correspondent Mujib Mashal questioned in a 30 August tweet whether or not this shift was reflecting “good use of know-how” or a response to larger security threats. He stated, “Politicians who at the least during election occasions went to satisfy individuals in distant districts (away from their blast partitions and armored automobiles) now speak to gatherings by way of Skype.” Afghan journalist Harun Najafizada, editor with Iran International, answered that query in another tweet on 2 September: “In Afghanistan safety doesn’t permit precise rallies [before] the Sept. 28th presidential polls.” The chief government has had no provincial marketing campaign journey yet.

It is value mentioning that a number of the election observer organisations (eg Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation (AABRAR), Afghanistan Civil Society Discussion board-Organization (ACSFO), Training Human Rights Association for Afghan Ladies (THRA)) carried out a pre-election assessment before the beginning of the election marketing campaign. AAN was invited to attend the meetings. One official from the Ministry of Inside who didn’t need to be named advised the assessment staff that, even in Kabul, that they had knowledgeable the candidates that the safety forces might only secure marketing campaign events held on the Loya Jirga Tent and some other specific venues, which he refused to name.

Elections versus peace

Aside from technicalities and security threats, the campaign has been so sluggish for a a lot larger cause: it was merely not clear to the candidates and their political allies whether the election would go forward. This uncertainty emanated from the – now defunct – negotiations between the US and the Taleban in Doha. The US made it clear that election may stand in the best way of the larger purpose, ending the struggle. For example, on 24 August, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass, whereas visiting Mazar-e Sharif, stated that while each elections and a peace accord have been “essential for america . . ., [p]eace is our highest priority because additionally it is the very best precedence of the Afghan individuals. And every single day, we have now Afghans telling us that peace is their highest priority.”

Campaign posters on the airport street. Aside from incumbent President Ghani’s campaign, other candidates began their campaign reluctantly and put up their posters round Kabul metropolis. Photograph: Ali Yawar Adili, 14 September 2019

The widespread assumption was that these negotiations would culminate in a cancellation of the election in favour of an interim power-sharing arrangement. This was fuelled by media reporting of rumours, resembling al-Jazeera reporting virtually a month into the election campaign, on 24 August, that the US and the Taleban had agreed to an interim authorities that might be in cost for 14 months (media report right here). While both US Special Consultant Zalmai Khalilzad and the spokesman for the Taleban’s Qatar office, Suhail Shahin, rejected the stories on the very day in separate tweets (see here and right here), it did not dilute the suspicion that each side could be hiding one thing. As AAN has already reported, even Chief Government Abdullah, who had persistently supported the holding of the election and accordingly began his electoral campaign, modified his place – and increased his options – saying that he was “absolutely able to render sacrifices before and after election to succeed in a sturdy peace within the nation.” Based on this report this included “give up[ting] elections for the sake of peace.” Whereas the election seems to be to be the only choice for shifting ahead after President Trump declared peace negotiations as “lifeless,” there are not any indicators to point that the election campaigns have picked up enough steam.

Furthermore, there is a belief deficit within the election itself, ensuing from the poor earlier elections. Ghani himself has referred to as the 2018 parliamentary elections “a disaster” (AAN reporting right here), whereas the EU election statement mission referred to as the 2014 presidential election, from which Ghani emerged as the president however in the unloved NUG, a “catastrophe.” The findings of a survey launched by Clear Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) on eight August confirmed that only 42.87 per cent of the respondents (5,200 from all 34 provinces) stated they might participate in the upcoming election and  the remaining 57.13 per cent of them had little interest in voting in the upcoming election. The reasons included: electoral commissions haven’t any freedom or the required capacity to carry the election; citizens’ votes have been sacrificed for a political deal in the 2014 presidential election; and severe safety threats and challenges.  AAN has repeatedly reported that vital electoral reform has remained embryonic, making the approaching election as problem-ridden as the previous ones, with electoral institutions extensively thought-about non-credible and partial, while reviews surrounding the preparations for biometric verification recommend the probability of renewed chaos. In addition, the election has a big drawback with inclusiveness: many citizens, notably in rural Taleban-controlled areas, are already disadvantaged of their proper to vote because of lack of safety, with 2,005 out of 7,378 polling centres remaining closed.

Out of the race

1. Collapse of Atmar’s staff

Even earlier than the start of the official marketing campaign season, the ticket of considered one of three election favourites collapsed. Atmar’s candidacy would have reworked the duel between the two NUG heads Ghani and Abdullah (which repeated the one between Ghani’s predecessor Hamed Karzai and Abdullah in 2009) right into a three-horse race with an unpredictable end result.

Atmar (a Pashtun from Laghman who served as national security adviser to President Ghani until 2018 and before as minister of rural rehabilitation and improvement, schooling and inside underneath Karzai) had shaped one of the strongest and most numerous tickets. His first and second running-mates have been respectively former vice-president Muhammad Yunus Qanuni, a Tajik from Panjshir and a senior Jamiat member, and Muhammad Mohaqeq, the second deputy to Chief Government Abdullah and the chief of Hazara-dominated Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom-e Afghanistan. Atmar had additionally fielded a third, casual, running-mate, Alem Sa’i, an Uzbek and a former governor of Jawzjan, to tap into the Uzbek voter base often dominated by Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is supporting Abdullah. Sa’i is a member of the anti-Dostum New Jombesh social gathering founded in June 2017 (AAN background right here). Along with Qanuni, Atmar had cultivated other influential Jamiat stalwarts who, Qanuni stated on 18 January 2019, included Atta Muhammad Nur and Ismail Khan. (4) Qanuni notably underscored Nur’s and Khan’s position in forming the ticket, with out whom, he stated, they might not have been profitable (see AAN reporting right here).

In the long run, a row broke out within the Atmar ticket about Nur’s position and his declare to the longer term prime ministerial submit. On 24 July, Nur advised Tolonews in an interview that “I am the prime minister of this group.” Six days later, on 30 July, Radio Azadi reported, based mostly on a source close to Atmar’s electoral ticket, that at the launch of the workforce’s election marketing campaign Nur needed to be introduced as the ticket’s candidate for this potential place however that Atmar opposed it. The report stated that Atmar needed his plan to re-establish the prime minister’s publish to be mentioned in his campaign charter however that it might be carried out solely after being permitted by a Loya Jirga after an election victory. Atmar had laid this strategy out himself in an interview with Tolonews a couple of days earlier, on 20 July, by which he stated:

The settlement of our workforce is that if we win, we’ll keep the presidential system hundred per cent [but] beneath this technique, for the betterment of governance affairs [and] considering the successful expertise of His Majesty’s reign [referring to the same system in place under King Muhammad Zaher [1933–73]we’ll create the publish of sadr-e azam [prime minister] by amending the structure who shall be appointed and dismissed by the president.

What really happened may need been a bit extra difficult, at the least in line with Sayyed Muhammad Ali Jawid, the top of 1 faction of Harakat-e Islami celebration that was part of the Atmar staff. On this place, he had some insight into the group’s inner dealings. In a Fb publish on 9 August, he alleged that Atmar had signed a secret agreement with Nur to create the submit of prime minister and introduce him as his candidate to the publish. Based on Jawid, Atmar knowledgeable the leadership council concerning the settlement on 6 Asad (28 July), only after the disagreement between him and Nur turned critical, and asked the council members to mediate. Jawid claimed that members of the group’s leadership council, including himself, tried to take action but to no avail. Jawid also stated that Atmar had accepted to announce Nur’s prime-ministership however refused to yield to his demand that the prime minister also would decide his ministers after the election victory, which Atmar thought-about as rendering himself powerless as the potential president. (5) Earlier than, on 3 August, Jawid had introduced his get together’s separation from Atmar’s group, citing Atmar’s and Nur’s unrelenting stances relating to the prime-ministership concern, with the end result that the credibility of this workforce within the public opinion had “decreased to zero.” 12 days later, on 15 August, Jawid announced that his social gathering would help Ghani’s State-Builder staff.

In any case, Atmar’s group declared its election campaign “halted and suspended” on eight August. His statement gave three causes, however didn’t mention the Atmar-Nur ruckus concerning the prime ministerial publish and the approaching implosion of the workforce. It slightly:

  • blamed the continuing “bare interferences by the Palace’s equipment” within the election preparation and its personal lack of “confidence within the transparency of the elections and guarantees for a free and truthful setting” for it;
  • blamed the deteriorating safety threats to the electoral teams and their marketing campaign actions as well as the voters; and
  • stated that it had prioritised “efforts at peace” over the election.

It additionally stated that it will reserve all Atmar’s election ticket’s legal rights and would assessment its “position always and take crucial selections in accordance with the longer term political state of affairs and developments.” This hinted at a attainable resumption of his campaign. This seems to be most unlikely, though, particularly as two weeks later, on 23 August, Atmar’s second running-mate, Mohaqeq, officially joined the Abdullah workforce (see the video here), though he nonetheless insisted there was no discord among the group members.

On 15 August, already, Ghani’s marketing campaign supervisor, Muhammad Omar Daudzai, posted a photograph of himself shaking hand with Sulaiman Kakar who had been Atmar’s deputy in the workplace of the Nationwide Safety Council till September 2018 when he resigned ten days after his boss (media report here) saying that an “experienced and patriotic character” joined Ghani’s State-Builder marketing campaign. Kakar, he stated, would work as the deputy campaign supervisor. Earlier than, Kakar was crucial to Atmar’s staff and had been described as the “government arm” of his election staff. This led to media stories (see one right here) that Atmar would also be a part of Ghani’s State-Builder staff. Nevertheless, 5 days after the suspension of his marketing campaign, on 13 August, Atmar denied these studies. Atmar replied in his brief media discover:

Since final night time, studies indicating that the leader of the Peace and Moderation group Muhammad Hanif Atmar, senior members of the group and generally the Peace and Moderation group plan to hitch another electoral ticket have been revealed in the media and on social media. The information is completely inaccurate and unfaithful. The Peace and Moderation workforce pursues its objectives and programmes with full power.

Nevertheless, AAN had heard that Ghani’s nationwide safety adviser, Hamdullah Moheb, had met Atmar to influence him to hitch the president’s group and that Atmar had, as an alternative, requested to be appointed because the chief negotiator within the potential upcoming intra-Afghan negotiations.

2. Withdrawal of Rasul

In the meantime, Zalmai Rasul withdrew from the race and in addition announced his help for Ghani’s staff in a ceremony held on 6 August in Kabul (media report here). Rasul, who served as overseas minister and national safety advisor beneath Karzai, did not provide any particular reasons for his withdrawal. Rasul’s running-mates, Abdul Jabbar Taqwa (a Tajik from Farkhar district of Takhar) and Ghulam Ali Wahdat (a Hazara from Bamyan), didn’t comply with his go well with and, on the identical day, introduced their separation from him. In contrast to in 2014, when Rasul was one of the viable candidates and got here third in the first spherical of the election (he supported Abdullah within the second round), this time round his workforce was not thought-about as among the frontrunners.

One IEC commissioner wrote in response to AAN’s written question on four September that no candidate had officially written to the IEC to withdraw from the race, the poll papers had been printed and have been now being dispatched to the provinces, and that each one the (18) candidates who had been cleared to contest the election are on the ballot. In line with the electoral regulation, candidates might withdraw till 25 April when the IEC revealed the final record of candidates. Ought to they need to withdraw from the competition after this date, their names will remain on the poll, however any votes forged for them won’t be counted and their deposits won’t be returned (the cash would go into state coffers).

With the collapse of Atmar’s staff and withdrawal of Rasul, the number of candidates has decreased from 18 to 16, leaving the two incumbents, Ghani and Abdullah, as the primary contenders within the race.

Some additional institutional arrangements

As Atmar’s ticket, with its busted plan to build up considered one of its key members as the potential prime minister – a place not envisaged in the present structure – Abdullah’s group additionally got here up with some innovation. When he launched his election campaign on 28 July, Abdullah stated (his video right here) that his workforce’s leadership had determined that his ticket would come with three, not two, deputies for the position of chief government, the quasi-prime ministerial place invented beneath the NUG. He then launched the Pashtun politician Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi, a former finance minister and head of New National Entrance of Afghanistan coalition as chief government candidate. He named a Hazara, Ghani Kazemi (the chief of 1 Hezb-e Harakat-e Islami faction) as his first deputy and Roz Muhammad Nur (a Turkman) as the second, while the third place would go to a – not yet introduced – lady. (6) Abdullah’s move addressed what is seen as a necessity in Afghanistan’s extremely factionalised and ethnicised political landscape: to have a representative of each main ethnic group on a ticket to attraction to voters of those specific groups. His ticket was nonetheless lacking a Pashtun, whereas the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara slots have been taken by himself, Enayatullah Babur Farahmand and Asadullah Sadati.

Ahadi’s acceptance of the place is exceptional insofar as he had damaged away from a large political coalition, the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan (see AAN’s reporting) in November 2018 in protest towards exactly the identical problem – the coalition’s plan to create the submit of a chief minister.

Abdullah has also promised to type one other political physique, referred to as the Supreme Leadership Council, composed of leaders of main political parties. This has particularly been mirrored in his settlement with Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom leader Mohaqeq. When he left Atmar’s workforce and joined Abdullah’s, he was promised the publish of deputy to the chief of the council. This council is to advise the president “about elementary issues within the country,” in line with Muhammad Nateqi, Mohaqeq’s deputy in the get together, who himself has been promised a publish as a particular representative of the president in the case Abdullah wins.

Nabil appointed a Turkman, Abdul Majid Sattari, as his third vice-presidential candidate on 28 July. (7) On this, he follows Ghani, Atmar (see AAN’s earlier reporting here) and Abdullah who have now launched casual third vice-presidential candidates, thus far introduced as “special representatives” of the president. These further posts are usually not coated by the current structure. In line with article 60, solely two (first and second) vice-presidents are envisaged and have to be declared by the presidential candidates when registering to run, not in the course of the marketing campaign.(8) Consequently, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) warned in its 30 July 2019 determination that none of the candidates and electoral tickets might use titles comparable to prime minister, third vice-president or vice-presidential candidate in their election marketing campaign.

Marketing campaign violations

Two days into the campaign, the ECC, in its 30 July choice quoted above, issued warnings for the first electoral violations, which occurred during Ghani’s and Abdullah’s campaign launches. The ECC cited the illegal use of government’s cash and amenities, corresponding to utilizing the Loya Jirga tent (a government venue), authorities gear and automobiles and the participation of high-ranking government employees in the gatherings. The ECC stated that this had violated article 98 (paragraph 1, part 31) of the electoral regulation, article 5 (paragraph 5), article 6 (paragraph 2) and article 7 (paragraph 1, sections 4 and 7) of the amended regulation relating to the 2019 election marketing campaign in addition to article 6 (paragraph 4) of the regulation for management of monetary affairs of the election marketing campaign of candidates. It stated that the ECC members unanimously decided to challenge critical warnings to both Ghani’s “State-Builder” and Abdullah’s “Stability and Integration” groups in accordance with article 30 of the electoral regulation (paragraph 1, part three)and urged them to watch the procedures of the electoral commissions and different electoral laws.

A day after the official graduation of the election campaign, on 29 July, Atmar’s group issued a “assertion about unlawful appointments by Dr Ashraf Ghani.” The statement stated, “Former president and 2019 presidential candidate, Dr Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, in continuation of [his] unlawful actions, has appointed a variety of individuals to the necessary government positions . . . as heads of customs (from Herat to Nangrahar and from Kandahar to Farah) on the primary day of the beginning of the election campaign.” It stated that each one these appointments had “political, electoral and campaign dimension and are in direct battle with the electoral regulation, the principle of rule of regulation, political morality and sound competition which in flip can deal a heavy blow to the credibility of the government and irreparable harms to the election.” (9)The appointments got here regardless of the Unbiased Directorate of Native Governance’s announcement on 21 July that it had halted all “new appointments and recruitments associated to the agency until the top of the election” (AAN’s reporting here). Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqi, nevertheless, insisted on 30 July that each one the appointments, firings and hirings that had taken place inside the authorities establishments have been “needs-based” and coated by regulation.

On 9 September, the Kabul provincial ECC introduced that overseas minister Salahuddin Rabbani had been charged with a cash high quality of 15,000 afghanis (virtually 200 US dollars) for collaborating in Abdullah’s campaign events. It also fined two presidential advisers, Abdul Rahim Azizi and Shah Hussain Murtazawi, and the chancellor of Kabul University, Hamidullah Faruqi, with a effective of the same quantity for campaigning in favour of Ghani’s staff. Murtazawi was additionally penalised with a ban from voting. Kabul-based Pajhwok Information Agency also compiled an extended listing of examples of using “foul” and “aggressive” language, which is towards the electoral regulation.


The marketing campaign for Afghanistan’s 28 September 2019 election has been lacklustre due to the uncertainty ensuing from the – now collapsed – US-Taleban talks and US strain to further delay the poll to not stand in the best way of an settlement on troop withdrawal and intra-Afghan negotiations envisaged for after the conclusion of the deal. This and the precarious security state of affairs even pressured the incumbent – the only candidate absolutely dedicated to the election – to droop his campaign travels outdoors Kabul (which he resumed solely on 14 September).

AAN’s rely of the IEC’s official figures from the 2018 parliamentary election exhibits less than 3.5 million (three,467,541, to be actual) legitimate votes (in personal meetings, election observers have been saying that the quantity was even much decrease). With this uninspiring campaign, AAN has heard considerations that the turnout may be a lot lower, especially provided that there isn’t any native election to assist get the voters to polls. It’s feared that the election may fail to deliver a authentic mandate to the subsequent president.

Even so, the little campaigning up to now has been marred by accusations of irregularity and manipulation which mirror the distrust within the unreformed electoral establishments seen by his opponents to work within the incumbent’s favour.

With the disintegration of the Atmar ticket, the election is predicted to grow to be a two-horse race between the incumbent, Ashraf Ghani, and his estranged NUG ‘associate,’ Abdullah Abdullah. Along with the shortage of electoral reform promised after the 2014 ‘disaster’ – an election without an official outcome and a compromise unloved by the 2 ‘companions’ who largely cancelled out each other – this constellation may improve the danger that the post-2014 election chaos may repeat itself. Underneath these circumstances, any end result might easily be challenged – again.


Edited by Thomas Ruttig and Sari Kouvo


(1) Presidential hopeful Muhammad Shahab Hakimi, a member of the council, informed an area newspaper, every day Hasht-e Sobh on 30 July that eight candidates had thus far agreed to boycott the 28 September elections and that consultation in this regard continued. He did not present the names of those planning to boycott.

The council’s statement listed the next as “plausible reasons of the Council of Candidates to boycott the presidential election”:

First: our suggestion for establishing a committee comprising representatives of presidential candidates, political events and representatives of civil society organisations related to the election to help and help holding a free and truthful election to guard the independence of the unbiased electoral establishments and forge nationwide and worldwide cooperation to carry a free, clear, truthful and credible election in accordance with the regulation has been ignored.

Second: the organisational modifications in the government not solely were not cancelled but in addition two new ministries named State Ministry for Peace Affairs and State Ministry for Human Rights Affairs have newly been established. These have absolutely political dimensions and are towards the essential state construction.

Third: the appointments and dismissals of senior authorities officials and staff which have taken place because the leaders of the Nationwide Unity Government registered as presidential candidates have not been reversed.

Fourth: the actual independence of the IEC and ECC in decision-making related to procurement and recruitment of provincial employees and secretariats has not been clearly and transparently ensured. Non-transparent appointments have not solely not been cancelled however have also been maintained.

Fifth: high-ranking government officials within the centre and provinces immediately intrude within the election affairs in favour of the ruling groups. New posts are created in districts for this function.

Sixth: the top of the National Unity Government and the ruling staff within the centre and provinces have launched beauty and marketing campaign actions through the use of government assets corresponding to inaugurating tasks and celebrating independence, that are thought-about absolutely political and campaign actions.

Seventh: the National Tv of Afghanistan and different government media have been offered to the ruling candidates unfairly and towards the authorized paperwork.

Eight: abuse of the national finances, particularly codes 91, 92, and 95 and operative cash, for campaign actions of the leaders of the Nationwide Unity Government, especially of the president intensely proceed.

Ninth: abuse of presidency tasks by the top of the National Unity Authorities, particularly by the first woman and her workplace which has in essence been created towards the regulation continue.

Tenth: Abuse of the National Procurement Commission and signing contracts via single-source technique, including the contracts signed by the Presidential Safety Unit not only have not been cancelled but have additionally continued.

Eleventh: the related government institutions haven’t offered the required and applicable assets to satisfy the legal and bonafide needs of different candidates and their staff members, including security amenities, in accordance with the regulation and their wants.

Twelfth: psychological and career threats towards authorities staff who help non-ruling electoral groups haven’t been prevented.

Thirteenth: sadly, deliberate de-securitisation of areas where the candidates rival to the ruling staff are assumed to have extra votes continues.

Fourteenth: unfortunately, the IEC has not had the required coordination with electoral tickets concerning the purchase and maintenance of biometric units, coaching of employees in the way to use the units, cleaning the pretend tazkeras, cleaning the voter record, questionable cellular polling centres and existence of tons of of polling centres in insecure areas and other necessary situations which has induced critical concern for the candidates.

Fifteenth: rejecting the suggestions by credible international organisations to improve the 2019 presidential election.

(2) The commencement of the election campaign acquired solely a lukewarm welcome from the worldwide group. The European Union Delegation in Afghanistan tweeted on 28 July, “Immediately begins the presidential election marketing campaign.” It referred to as on Afghans to “seize this historic alternative [and] make candidates accountable of their imaginative and prescient of post-conflict” Afghanistan. It additionally referred to as on “candidates to make this marketing campaign a moment of transparency [and] integrity.” A day later, on 29 July, UNAMA issued a press release saying that “all candidates and supporters are anticipated to interact in a fair campaign as outlined” in the electoral regulation, IEC’s code of conduct for the candidates and other laws enacted by the IEC. It also referred to as on all of the stakeholders to “work toward building belief and confidence in the election process.” UNAMA reiterated its “continued dedication and help for an Afghan‐led and Afghan‐owned election” and acknowledged “the efforts made by electoral management bodies, the government and different stakeholders to carry a well timed, transparent and credible presidential election.”

(three) In its statement, Nabil’s “Security and Justice” election ticket accused the federal government of “double standards.” It accused“the government led by the Palace” of appearing “in a particularly biased, narrow-minded and selfish approach within the management of the election.” Afterward the same day, Nabil repeated his accusations, saying a in tweet that they have been apprehensive about “the interference and engineering of the upcoming election by the ruling group and Ashraf Ghani.” Nevertheless, he stated that his workforce would not boycott the election “at this stage.”

(four) Others embrace Kalimullah Naqibi, deputy head of Jamiat; Abdul Satar Murad, head of the political committee of Jamiat and former minister of financial system; Engineer Aref Sarwari, former head of NDS; Abdul Malek Hamwar, former minister of rural improvement and rehabilitation and Baz Muhammad Ahmadi, deputy minister of inside for counter-narcotics.

(5) Jawed additionally gave other causes for the disintegration of Atmar’s group:

  • broken guarantees, together with to pay those officials of the Ghani administration who had joined his workforce and have been subsequently fired by Ghani who additionally cancelled their benefits;
  • Atmar inaccessibility: “I . . . tried for multiple month by means of alternative ways to satisfy Atmar however he didn’t take time to satisfy. So I stated to myself: He ignores individuals while he has not even develop into the president yet; if he turns into the president, assembly him can be inconceivable”;
  • broken relations with two former mujahedin events, the National Liberation Entrance of Afghanistan of late Professor Sebghatullah Mojaddedi and the Nationwide Islamic Entrance of Afghanistan led by Sayed Hamed Gailani;
  • Atmar forming a special circle of shut aides, “principally” Pashtuns, the place all most important selections have been taken and never sufficiently shared within the management council.

(6) Under are brief bios of candidates for chief government and its deputies beneath Abdullah’s ticket. We solely present biographical element of politicians who newly appeared on the presidential tickets. For the initially 18 tickets and their members, seek advice from this AAN dispatch.

  • Ahadi, a Pashtun born in 1941 in Kabul, holds bachelor’s and master’s levels in financial system and political science from the American University of Beirut, a master’s diploma in financial and administrative affairs and a PhD in political sciences from Northwestern College, US. He served as the top of Afghanistan’s central bank from 2002 to 2004 and finance minister from 2004 to 2008 (see his bio on the Stability and Integrity web site right here). Ahadi backed Ghani within the 2014 presidential election, however in January 2016 established an opposition group referred to as the New Nationwide Entrance of Afghanistan (see AAN’s reporting here).
  • Kazemi, born in Lashkargah of Helmand province on 26 April 1963, has served as a army commander of Hezb-e Harakat-e Islami-e Afghanistan in Helmand, head of the social gathering’s provincial council in Helmand and member of the central council of the social gathering, consultant of Harakat to the Supreme Army Council of Islamic State of Afghanistan and United Entrance. With modifications to the structural organisation of the social gathering, he was elected as the top of the central council of the social gathering on 15 Jawza 1388 (5 June 2009). After entry into pressure of the amended political celebration regulation in 2009, he registered Hezb-e Harakat-e Islami based mostly on the brand new circumstances enshrined within the regulation. Kazemi has additionally served as deputy secretary common (2004) and then secretary common (2005–2010) of the Afghan Pink Crescent Society. He labored as presidential adviser on disaster management from 2012 to 2015 and as an adviser to the chief government from 2016 onward (info is extracted from his bio shared by one in every of his campaigner with AAN).
  • Roz Muhammad Nur was born in 1339 (1960) in Mardian district of Jawzan province. He graduated from Balkh Agricultural High Faculty in 1359 (1980) and holds a bachelor’s degree in financial system from Turkey. He served as second secretary at the Afghan embassy in Turkey from 1373 to 1381 (1994-2002), governor of Jawzjan from 1381 to 1384 (2002-2005), after which because the councillor in Afghan embassy in Turkmenistan until 1388 (2009). Since 1389 (2010), he has been lively in political actions and is now picked as the second deputy to the chief government in Abdullah’s Stability and Integration staff (info is taken from his brief bio shared by one in every of Abdullah’s campaigner with AAN).

(7) Sattari, ethnically Turkman, was born in Qurghan district of Faryab province in 1977. He holds a bachelor’s diploma in financial system from Selcuk University, Konya, Turkey. He has labored with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (2002–2003), international army forces (NATO) (2011–2014), civilian trainer for officers of the Ministry of Interior (2015–2016) and Turkish consulate in Jawzjan (2016–2018) and as logistics officer after which appearing head of RET Worldwide (2018–2019). He has now been nominated by Turktabaran (Uzbeks and Turkmans) as the third vice-presidential candidate on Nabil’s election ticket (the knowledge is obtained from his biography which AAN acquired from considered one of Nabil’s campaigners on 4 August).

(eight) Article 60 of the constitution says:
The President shall be the top of state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, executing his authorities within the government, legislative and judiciary fields in accordance with the provisions of this Structure.

  • The President shall have two Vice-Presidents, first and second.
  • The Presidential candidate shall declare to the nation names of both vice-presidential operating mates.
  • In case of absence, resignation or dying of the President, the primary Vice-President shall act in accordance with the provisions of this Structure.
  • Within the absence of the primary Vice-President, the second Vice-President shall act in accordance with the provisions of this Structure.

(9) This assertion apparently referred to a letter of appointment which was posted (see right here) on social media on 29 July. The letter quantity 3710 was issued by the recruitment part of human assets of the Ministry of Finance and signed by the appearing deputy minister for administration on 6 Asad 1398 (28 July) to the Customs Division of Herat Province. It accepted the following appointments:

  • Muhammad Akbar, head of Kandahar customs, as head of Herat Customs (alternative)
  • Feruz Khan as head of Nangarhar customs
  • Zaherullah Jilani, son of Abdul Dayan, employee of common department of customs, as head of Kandahar customs
  • Ahmad Nawid as head of the overall department of customs for operation
  • Sanaullah Ibrahimi, the technical head of the overall division of customs, as head of Farah customs
  • Shams Alekozai, the top of the overall division of customs, as airport customs officer.